Thanks, Mama Harriet!

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by Raymond Nat Turner

On July 10, 2016, the Sunday after the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the cops in Dallas, as protests engulfed the nation, in Memphis, Chanel Trice holds a sign while standing on the cement median between the eastbound and westbound lanes of the Interstate 40 bridge over the Mississippi River. Black Lives Matter supporters brought traffic to a standstill on both sides of the bridge by about 7 p.m. as the estimated crowd on the bridge swelled to more than 1,000. – Photo: Brad Vest, Memphis Commercial Appeal
On July 10, 2016, the Sunday after the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the cops in Dallas, as protests engulfed the nation, in Memphis, Chanel Trice holds a sign while standing on the cement median between the eastbound and westbound lanes of the Interstate 40 bridge over the Mississippi River. Black Lives Matter supporters brought traffic to a standstill on both sides of the bridge by about 7 p.m. as the estimated crowd on the bridge swelled to more than 1,000. – Photo: Brad Vest, Memphis Commercial Appeal

I cried, “Help, Mama Harriet, help!” and you,
Beautiful young warriors, came Toyi-toying
from Ferguson, Baltimore, The Town, etc.
Through teargas clouds, pepper spray storms
You came tying traffic into hangman nooses,
shutting malls down like open and shut cases
of killer cops who walk. You came wrestling
Your minds out of the hands of exploiters!

I cried, “Help, Mama Harriet, help!” and you,
Beautiful young warriors, came incandescent,
kicking, screaming out of capitalism’s womb –
waters breaking, unleashing torrents of energy,
sending surges of resistance, electrifying our
streets, illuminating our steps like Las Vegas
nights! You came galvanizing, mobilizing,
Organizing through wet blankets of false
consciousness, suffocating confusion and despair,
plastic cuffs, “protest pens,” “free speech zones,”
police state checkpoints and jagged resting places of
Boomers bamboozled by the state’s complex simplicity!

I cried, “Help, Mama Harriet, help!” and you,
Beautiful young warriors, came, waistbands
concealing questions. Came, actions unraveling
riddles wrapped in enigmas, shrouded in superstition:
What is the state? What’s this octopus with ten thousand
tentacles, all circling the wagon? What’s this creature of
Constitution, courts, judges, legislators? What’s this machine
of mediators, arbitrators, governors, generals, admirals, wardens,
agencies, bureaus, spies, snitches and – foot soldiers, sons of
slave patrols – the police, all on the same page in the same
Playbook?

I cried, “Help, Mama Harriet, help!” and you,
Beautiful young warriors, came trusting fresh unvarnished
perceptions that the state
PROTECTS private plane, “too big to fail” Cayman Island crowds
SERVES 99 percent pig foots and fists – knuckle sandwiches,
boot burgers, baton blows, taser and loads of hot lead –
compliments of the 1 percent
You sensed it ain’t broke – every epithet, insult, punch, kick,
baton blow, bullet, serves superbly! You realize you can’t fix
the robber’s
Gun leaving skeletons wasting in doorways on cardboard
mattresses, hands curled into cups from begging …
You feel you can’t tinker with terrorists’ bombs, blowing up
Food Stamps, Social Security, Medicare, and your schools …
And you can’t adjust clubs suppressing free speech,
smashing strikes, shielding scabs, crushing resistance and
drum majoring for wars slaughtering class brothers and
Sisters by the thousands in Africa, Asia and Latin America

I cried, “Help, Mama Harriet, help!” and you,
Beautiful young warriors, you “fit the profile”
Toyi-toying from Ferguson, Baltimore, The
Town etc., vying for mastery of mass struggle’s
Myriad forms: sit-ins, boycotts, marches, mass meetings,
Mass rallies, teach-ins, freedom schools, freedom songs,
sabotage, armed self-defense: doing the difficult
Today – the impossible might take a little while …

Raymond Nat Turner © 2016 All Rights Reserved. Raymond Nat Turner can be reached at upsurgejazz@gmail.com.

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